Chops Goals: A Three-Part Practice Regimen Designed for Long-Term Trumpet Achievement

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by MJ, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. MJ

    MJ Administrator Staff Member

    Jan 30, 2006
    Tuesday, March 31, 2009
    [​IMG] Down Beat Magazine Article

    Master Class — Chops Goals: A Three-Part Practice Regimen Designed for Long-Term Trumpet Achievement

    A Jazz Educational Series

    by Sean Jones Blogs - Down Beat Magazine Article - Sean Jones MySpace Blog

    I have been approached by many jazz trumpet players
    inquiring about “chops” endurance, flexibility and other pedagogical
    aspects of performance. I immediately refer to my classical studies and
    bring up various exercises, etudes, excerpts and methods that I’ve
    worked on. After answering questions about these issues, I am almost
    always asked how to incorporate this into jazz and how to practice
    these exercises and have time to work on jazz performance.
    This always amazes me. Many trumpet players—musicians in general, for
    that matter—go through their careers without an effective, daily
    practice routine that incorporates the musicianship necessary to play
    jazz and the pedagogical skills to execute musical ideas clearly. I
    believe this is due to the overwhelming task that many aspiring jazz
    trumpet players face. Not only do you have to spend hours gaining
    technique, flexibility, range and correct breathing practices, but you
    have to practice lines, chords, tunes, patterns and other components of
    jazz pedagogy without getting fatigued. All of this practice can be
    frustrating without a clear plan.

    Throughout my early study, I had teachers and mentors who
    instilled in me the importance of having great technique and facility
    as well as a good working knowledge of jazz practices and pedagogy.
    While studying these aspects of playing, I began to come up with a
    practice routine that fit my needs and helped me accomplish my goals.
    Over the years, I have adjusted it slightly as I accumulate knowledge,
    taking what I can from every method of study that I come across and
    assessing whether it fits my needs and is applicable to my general way
    of playing.

    Before developing a practice routine, you must have clear goals in
    mind, both long-term and short-term. You have to decide what kind of
    player you would like to be. This will help you have a clear focus
    while studying musical and pedagogical ideas. About 15 years ago, I
    wrote out my career goals in five-, 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-year
    increments, accounting for what genres of music I wanted to play, what
    bands I wanted to play in, and what type of music I wanted to write and
    perform in my own bands. From this, I devised a plan of action.
    I researched what techniques and skills I would need to achieve
    these goals, found people with similar career paths and sought advice.
    I began to take the knowledge that I learned and came up with a
    practice schedule that would help me achieve these goals—a routine that
    would give me musical and technical proficiency. This routine breaks
    down into 10-, five-, three- and one-year goals, as well as quarterly,
    monthly, weekly and daily goals, which mirror my plan of action. I
    continue to use the bulk of the routine that I developed years ago.
    My daily routine is broken down into three segments. First, I
    have my maintenance routine, which includes exercises that are used to
    maintain basic trumpet technique and proficiency. Included are
    expansive long tones, flow studies, Herbert L. Clarke exercises 1–3,
    tongue slurs, scales and arpeggios. This routine typically lasts about
    an hour-and-a-half and includes 15 minutes of silence at the start and
    an assessment period at the end. The silence prepares my mind for
    practicing, and allows me to assess progress in the practice session
    when it is complete. The assessment is documented in a daily journal,
    which contains daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals as a reminder of
    why I am practicing.

    Due to fatigue and time constraints, it is not possible for most people
    to practice all day. Therefore, it is crucial that you practice with
    your mind as frequently as you practice with your body. Meditation on
    practice routines and goals will help to reinforce muscle memory and
    personal assessment and achievement.

    During my second practice routine, ranging from an hour to an
    hour-and-a-half, I include articulation exercises, various etude books
    including the Marcel Bitsch, Jean-Baptiste Arban, Theo Charlier and top
    tones books. I also incorporate excerpts from symphonic repertoire as
    well as solo literature from the classical genre. These methods and
    repertoire are crucial in the reinforcement of a daily maintenance
    routine. They reinforce basic tone production, clear articulation, flow
    and flexibility.

    If you choose to use jazz repertoire to achieve this type of
    reinforcement, you must keep in mind that the primary aim of this
    practice session is to reinforce instrumental pedagogy. The difficult
    in using jazz repertoire to reinforce pedagogy is that it’s easy to get
    caught up in the musicality of jazz and the freedom of it and not focus
    on the discipline that it takes to reinforce trumpet pedagogy. This is
    why I stick to the classical repertoire, as instrumental discipline is
    established and reinforced in the genre. This is not to say that it
    isn’t present in jazz. However, in most studying, a direct association
    is made between instrumental pedagogy and the classical genre. Perhaps
    in the future, those of us who have studied both genres will began
    writing excerpt books and etudes that focus on instrumental techniques
    inside of jazz.

    My third practice session, being my longest (one-and-a-half to two
    hours), is dedicated to jazz. This session includes transcribing solos,
    learning tunes, and working on lines, patterns and harmonic concepts. I
    do my best to work on these items in all keys through the cycle of
    fourths and in all registers. In a given week, I will have a certain
    solo, tunes and harmonic concepts that I’ll work on and have clear
    goals that I want to achieve by week’s end. This varies from week to
    week, as my second session also varies from week to week. The first
    session is typically the same. During my jazz session, I retain the
    technical discipline that I’ve worked on in the first two practice
    sessions while developing my concepts in jazz. It is important that all
    of your practice habits feed into each other. After all, specific goals
    all lead to your long-term musical goals and ambitions.
    Over time, it is important that the methods you study and
    habits you take from others are then refined into your own concept of
    playing and practicing. I heard Wynton Marsalis speaking about
    Thelonious Monk during one of our Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
    concerts and he discussed something that Monk said in regard to genius.
    He said, “Monk believed that a true genius is the person who is most
    like himself.”

    This is also true in your practice routine. Your greatest
    development will come through your self-discovery in the process. After
    careful study of everyone else’s methods and assessment of what works
    for you, you will put together your own plan and achieve what you wish,
    your way. DB
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2009
  2. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    Re: Chops Goals: A Three-Part Practice Regimen Designed for Long-Term Trumpet Achieve

    Thanks MJ, great article!
  3. y0da777

    y0da777 Pianissimo User

    Feb 28, 2009
    do i live here?????
    Re: Chops Goals: A Three-Part Practice Regimen Designed for Long-Term Trumpet Achieve

    tht was a good article for the remembering freddie hubbard issue!
  4. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Re: Chops Goals: A Three-Part Practice Regimen Designed for Long-Term Trumpet Achieve

    Great stuff, MJ. It's mostly about focus and how to employ it in your quest for betterment as a player. Having a structured agenda to guide you is key to defining your focus.
    I came away with a lot to benefit me by reading it. Thanks!

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